UW Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine had no idea saving one of their furry patients would land them on the biggest screen in America — Scout, the ‘Lucky Dog,’ and the School of Veterinary Medicine will be featured in a WeatherTech Super Bowl LIV commercial.
According to David Vail, UW Professor of Oncology and a member of Scout’s treatment team, Scout first arrived at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine in 2019 following his unexpected collapse at his home in Illinois. Vail said Scout was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer with a tumor growing on his heart.
Vail said Scout’s owner, David MacNeil, CEO and Founder of WeatherTech, was directed to experts at UW in the face of the cancer’s 1% survival rate at 12 months. Vail said the MacNeil family never gave up on Scout, and openly pursued the most aggressive form of treatment while maintaining the best quality of life possible for Scout .
“[Scout’s family] was very concerned and committed to Scout. They asked all the right questions,” Vail said. “The right patient and the right caregivers made him an excellent patient to treat.”
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Vail said Scout has a type of cancer in his blood vessels, making it difficult to treat, especially with the tumor on his heart. According to Vail, UW had the special radiation and imaging equipment needed to reach the heart tumor.
With this treatment, Vail said Scout’s tumor shrank by about 90%. While Scout is still undergoing chemotherapy and immunotherapy to try to kill cancer cells in his body, Vail said Scout’s been able to maintain his same quality of life.
“He’s normal Scout. [The MacNeils] still fly him down to Florida where their second home is,” Vail said. “He swims in the ocean and runs on the beach.”
WeatherTech completely funded the thirty-second commercial entitled ‘Lucky Dog.’ The commercial will air most likely during the second quarter of the Super Bowl LIV game on Feb. 2, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It narrates Scout’s journey with UW staff and encourages viewers to donate.
Mark Markel, Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, said the MacNeil’s ability to share Scout’s story in a Super Bowl commercial is nothing short of extraordinary.
“Scout’s story is amazing. There is nothing like this, particularly in the context of a Super Bowl commercial, in any other higher educational institute, any university, and certainly not a school of medicine,” Markel said. “I think it is a testament to pet owners’ passion about their animals, that many consider them a member of the family.”
Markel said all money received in relation to the commercial will go to cancer treatment or research. Markel said it will go towards funding treatment programs as well as state of the art equipment.
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Vail said he believes the commercial will show people there is hope when dogs get cancer. With the School’s partnerships in comparative oncology for humans and animals, Vail said the money will help accelerate research in the “one medicine” idea — the idea that all cancers in all species can be managed with the same approach — to treat aggressive cancers for both people and pets.
“We’re really hopeful and very grateful to the MacNeils. They could have been content with just treating Scout,” Vail said. “They’ve decided they are not content with that and they want to take a more global approach to helping pet dogs with cancer.”
Vail said Scout will spend all this week and next week undergoing radiation treatment for lung nodules, a result of the metastatic disease that comes with his cancer.
Vail said despite the low odds of completely eradicating the cancer, UW will keep fighting for Scout.
“The likelihood of cure is not high,” Vail said. “But we are out to give him as much quality for as long as we can.”